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Photo by The Nature Conservancy

Leavitt Plantation Forest

Guidelines for Use of LMF Properties

Walking/Hiking Wildlife Observation/Study Cross-country skiing/Snow-shoeing Horseback Riding Mountain Biking Fishing Hunting/Trapping Snowmobile Trails 

Project Description

The fate of an 8,600-acre forest, which has supported generations of local families, came into question in 2000 when the land was slated for auction into more than a dozen parcels. Leavitt Plantation Forest in Parsonsfield represents York County’s largest contiguous block of sustainably managed forest in single ownership, and provides high-value forest products that support the regional economy.

Recognizing that one-third of town residents derive income from the Leavitt Plantation, the people of Parsonsfield sought help in protecting it. Begun in local homes, their success extended ultimately to the halls of Congress. Beyond the community members who contributed $575,000 and countless volunteer hours, partners in the project included a visionary timber management company willing to buy the land and sell an easement on it; the Maine Department of Conservation; The Nature Conservancy which coordinated and raised funds for the project; the Land for Maine’s Future Program which provided nearly half of the substantial project costs; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which provided funds through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act; and Maine’s Congressional delegates who helped to secure a $600,000 grant from the federal Forest Legacy Program.

The conservation easement helps protect irreplaceable habitat for 17 State-listed rare plants and species. Some of southern Maine’s most pristine streams run through these woods, supporting Atlantic sea-run salmon and an exemplary native brook trout fishery.

Within an hour’s drive of half of Maine’s population, Leavitt Plantation Forest is a destination for hunters, snowmobilers, hikers, cross-country skiers and cyclists. Thanks to the efforts of a local company, Back Country Excursions, the property now has 80 miles of mountain biking trails. Under the easement’s terms, the forest land will remain intact and will be managed sustainably--producing forest products and jobs for local residents. The timber management company that owns the land has committed to obtaining green certification for its forest management practices through the Forest Stewardship Council. The Small Woodlot Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM) will assist the Bureau of Parks and Lands in monitoring the easement.